Dolly Parton is a legend in the country music industry. She is well-known for her big voice, big hair, and her larger than life…personality. Born in January 1946, Dolly busted into the music scene some 50 years ago. She has produced 43 studio albums, and boasts many other projects, such as philanthropy, theme parks, films, and television. Even though she has been around for decades, there a few things about her that many of her fans don’t realize.
Dolly Grew Up Poor
Dolly Parton was the fourth of 11 children born to Robert and Avie Lee Parton. One would think they’d need a large home for that many people, but they only had a one-room cabin in Sevier County, Tennessee. Dolly has said that her family was dirt poor, so poor that her daddy paid the doctor with a bag of grain for delivering Dolly the day she was born. Their home didn’t have electricity nor indoor plumbing.
Rebuilding Her Childhood Home
After she had become famous, Dolly decided to buy her old family property, and redo it. She hired her brother, Bobby, to remodel the cabin, and make it look like it did when they were growing up. The only change they made was to have electricity, and indoor plumbing. Even though it does have indoor plumbing, she made the bathroom look like an outdoor toilet. You can see a replica of Dolly’s childhood home in the Dollywood Theme Park.
Dolly Parton began her song-writing career when she was only 7-years-old, and has written 5,000 songs. She began playing a homemade guitar at the age of 7, and was given a real guitar when she was 8-years-old by an uncle. At the age of 10, Dolly, began singing on the radio as well as local television programs. At 13, she recorded her first song called “Puppy Love.” She also appeared at the Grand Ole Opry for the first that year where she met Johnny Cash.
Signed At 19 Years Old
After high school, she moved to Nashville, and first became known as a songwriter. Her songs were recorded by many artists, two of which became top-ten hits. At 19, Dolly signed to sing for Monument Records. The label first recorded her as a pop singer, but when those songs flopped, they tried her as a country singer, what Dolly had always wanted to be. Her first single, “Dumb Blonde” reached number 24 on the chart.
Dolly Parton has managed to defeat the odds, and has stayed married to her first, and only, husband for 51 years. She married Carl Dean in 1966, and he has managed to keep himself out of the limelight. Carl hasn’t gone with his wife to any events. Dolly has said that even though they don’t get to spend a lot of time together, he is still her best friend, and always will be. According to friends, they really complement each other well.
How She Fell In Love
The two met on one of Dolly’s first days in Nashville at the Wishy-Washy Laundromat. She said that he not only talked to her, but also looked her in the eyes, which was a rare thing for her in relationships. Carl helped her raise several of her younger siblings, and many of her nieces and nephews call her “Aunt Granny.” She has used the moniker as the name of one of the restaurants in Dollywood. The two do not have any children of their own.
Dolly wanted a way to give back to her hometown, and decided on an amusement park that she named Dollywood. The park opened in 1986, and has given jobs to thousands of local residents and boosted the local economy. Dolly said in 2010 that she would be open to expanding. Adjacent to the main park, there is also Dollywood’s Splash Country, which is a large water park. She recently opened the DreamMore Resort for guests to stay.
What A Ride
Dolly has admitted that she gets horribly motion sick, and she isn’t able to get on any of the rides that are in Dollywood. She has even said that she would get sick riding in the school bus. She has said that her father was the same way. He would joke with her that he would never be able to be a pilot, miner, or sailor because of the motion sickness that he would get.
Rumor has it that Dolly has secret tattoos that she keeps covered with her clothing. She admitted to having a few small ones, but what they are of, and where they are located is still unknown to her fans. Dolly says she got them to cover up some scars that show rather well because she is so fair-skinned. Many believe these tattoos are the reason that Dolly only wears long sleeves. If her sleeves are sheer enough, though, you can see signs that she is heavily inked in various places.
Tattooed For Life
Dolly has said that part of the reason that she got the tattoos was for her husband’s benefit. She could have meant that the tattoos were of things that her husband particularly liked. One of the rumors is that Dolly has tattoos of snakes up and down her body, but she denies this. She has only publicly said that she has a few small tattoos, but won’t say where they are, or what they are images of.
Entered a Look-a-like Contest
At one point, Dolly decided to enter a Dolly Parton look-a-like contest just for the fun of it. She says it happened on Halloween years ago, and she was among several men who were dressed up like her. For the contest, Dolly exaggerated the “Dolly Parton” look, using an overly large blonde wig, and made everything bigger, including her beauty mark and eyes. She doesn’t think the other contestants knew that she was the real Dolly Parton.
Not Very Convincing
Dolly says that while she didn’t take too much time on her costume, she could tell the other contestants had obviously taken weeks to get their costumes just right for the contest. She said that she didn’t stand a chance winning. Dolly admits that she doesn’t remember how she did in the contest, but doesn’t think she made it very far as she got the least applause from the audience. Apparently, she didn’t make a very convincing Dolly Parton look-alike.
The Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is something that she started as a way to give back. It was started in just her home state of Tennessee, but soon encompassed the entire country, and then soon spread to Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. The program started in 1995 in hopes of spreading literacy in Tennessee. When the word spread around the internet about the program, a swarm of parents went to sign up their children, and the site crashed.
She’s Also A Bookworm
The program handpicks age appropriate books, and sends them to children each month from the time they are born until they reach kindergarten. Dolly wanted to help foster a love for reading at an early age. Dolly hopes that having the books delivered to their home will become a special event that happens each month, since the children don’t know what book is being sent until it arrives. Since the program started there have been 80,000,000 books sent to children all over the United States.
Dolly Turned Down Elvis
Dolly Parton wrote the acclaimed song “I Will Always Love You,” and she also sang it. She was contacted by Elvis Presley’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker, who wanted to make a deal with her for Elvis to cover the song, but Dolly didn’t agree with the terms of the deal. Unfortunately, they also demanded that they get half of the publishing rights. Apparently, Elvis never recorded a song he didn’t have at least some publishing rights to. She decided to turn them down.
Was She Crazy or What?
When Dolly turned down Elvis, everyone told her that she was crazy for doing so. Dolly said that she couldn’t say what it was, but something told her not to do the deal. She says she learned long ago to trust her instincts. It turned out to be the right thing to do, however, because in 1992, Whitney Houston recorded the song for “The Bodyguard” soundtrack. It turned out to be a huge hit, and it made Dolly Parton a lot of money.
Dolly has made several movies over the years, such as “Steel Magnolias” and “9 to 5.” Some movies she has done have flopped horribly, such as “Rhinestone,” which came out in 1984. The movie was about a country singer and a cabbie in New York. The movie was counted as a failure by the critics, and her co-star, Sylvester Stallone, has stated that he regrets making the movie. Dolly stated in her autobiography that she doesn’t regret the movie, and says she loves the soundtrack to it.
Dolly In Hollywood
In many of the movies that she is credited in, Dolly starred as herself, including “The Beverly Hillbillies” in 1993. She was also in the movie “Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous” as herself. She played Aunt Dolly in several episodes of “Hannah Montana.” Most recently, she was in “Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love” television movie as the painted lady. She also voiced a character in the TV series “Lily’s Driftwood Bay.”
Godmother to Miley Cyrus
Dolly Parton is the godmother to Miley Cyrus. She is good friends with Miley’s father, Billy Ray Cyrus. When Miley was born, he asked her if she would be the baby’s godmother. She, of course, said yes. They never made it official in church, but she is close to her goddaughter anyway. Dolly has stood by Miley throughout her career. As mentioned, Dolly appeared as her Aunt Dolly in Miley’s TV show, “Hannah Montana,” and they have also performed together.
Dolly has said that she loves Miley, and will continue to support her in any way that she can. She says that she can’t fault Miley for wanting to do her own thing now that she is away from her Disney Channel roots. Dolly says that she doesn’t think everyone realizes what a great singer and songwriter Miley is quite yet. She also says that she knows Miley has really thought all her choices through, and that she is making the best choices possible.
Dolly’s Famous Statue
Dolly has proudly given back a lot to her hometown of Sevierville, Tennessee. She has singlehandedly stimulated the economy of the area, and has kept many people employed through her amusement park. To show their appreciation, the residents of Sevierville had a statute built in her honor. The statue shows a young Dolly, sitting on a rock, barefoot, and holding her guitar. It is a life-sized statue, and sits outside of the county courthouse.
A Show Stopper
The statue was made by a local artist named Jim Gray, and it was dedicated to Dolly on May 3, 1987. It is cast in bronze and was beautifully crafted by Gray. Dolly is quite proud and honored by the statue. It was made in recognition of Dolly giving back to her home town after becoming successful. The statue is one of 28-stops on the downtown walking tour of Dolly’s hometown. This statue remains one of the favorite stops on the tour for Dolly’s fans.
Other Fun facts
In 1995, the world’s first cloned sheep was born. It was given the name Dolly because of its large mammary glands, and no one has bigger ones than Dolly, according to the scientists. Another interesting fact is that Dolly had a death threat sent by the Ku Klux Klan in the mid-2000’s. This happened because Dollywood joined the ranks of those who participated in “Gay Days.” Dolly said the threats didn’t faze her, that she loves everyone, and she shouldn’t have to explain herself.
A Heavy Price To Pay
One of Dolly Parton’s dresses can weigh as much as 50 pounds. When wearing one of her costumes, she can often be seen leaving trails of sequins, rhinestones, and beads that fall from the costumes. The people in her crew often call these “Dolly droppings.” During her shows, she often wears hand-made Christian Louboutin heels that are a size five-and-a-half. She will often open each show wearing white, though she prefers the big and sparkly outfits that she wears.